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“You have to have a diversity of viewpoints at the table to have an effective team.” – President Barack Obama

If you looked around the room at the Economic Club of Canada’s Future Skills: A Conversation with President Barack Obama event, you’d see a diverse crowd in age, race and gender. From students to young professionals to your own #TeamChamber, Canada’s future leaders gathered to examine what our workforce needs to prosper. The answer? People.

Our workforce needs people who are adaptable. Many argue that in today’s digital age, there’s not much that people do that a machine can’t do better. Our workforce shouldn’t resist this. We need to imagine new uses for human power because automation will never have the ability to contribute innovative ideas or have the capacity to set goals like people do. Those are what we call durable skills: skills that go beyond a specific job that you can take with you anywhere and that will never be obsolete, such as creativity, leadership and good communication. To create an adaptable workforce, it’s crucial that people harness their EQ (emotional quotient) and IQ (intelligence quotient) to find their AQ (adversity quotient) to help them adjust to the rapid changes that are happening to our workforce.

Our workforce needs people who are diverse.

Diversity is imperative for an effective workforce.

Our prosperity depends on ensuring all Canadians – from all sectors, regions and backgrounds – have the opportunity to take part in our society. Research shows that the most successful organizations are creating diversified and inclusive workplaces in which individual differences and the contributions of all employees are valued.

Our society needs to dismantle the barriers countless people face in order to access the talent and potential across the country. That’s why we’re committed to advocating for better mental health, accessibility and diversity in the workplace in order to help businesses take measures towards meaningful action.

Our workforce needs people who are leaders.

Canada’s future lies within its next generation of leaders. We need a culture of openness where young leaders have the ability to bring their ideas and insights forward. We need a culture that’s not risk-adverse, where decisions are information-based yet people are comfortable taking chances. We need a culture that binds together social, business and political communities rather than dividing them. We need a culture that gives future leaders hope.

Ultimately, our workforce is moving towards a culture shift, one tied to a sense of community in the institutions we are a part of. Canada’s next generation of leaders are tired of hearing about the future; they want to shape it, and diversifying our workforce is how we’ll do it.

To learn more about the workforce strategies that we are advocating, click here.

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There are specific steps that Sarnia Lambton businesses can help to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the infection that began in mainland China and which has since found its way to North America and other regions of the world.

So says Lambton County’s medical officer of health, Dr. Sudit Ranade, who points to steps that can protect someone from influenza as being effective with this particular disease.

“Keep yourself as healthy as you can, get your flu shot, keep your immunizations up-to-date, wash your hands frequently, stay away from other people when you’re sick, cover your cough or sneeze to avoid contaminating other surfaces,” said Dr. Ranade.

Getting a flu shot is among the precautions that could be on a list, although it’s important to note there is no vaccine for the coronavirus or its variations.

“For local people, right now, there’s no recommendation other than do the things you would do to protect yourself from the regular flu season.”

As to the issue of the effectiveness of wearing a face mask, questions remain.

“In fact, there’s some suggestion that wearing a face mask while you’re healthy may put you at greater risk because you’re touching your face more often,” said Dr. Ranade.

The role of Lambton Public Health is to conduct surveillance for this type of disease, manage cases and contacts to prevent or control outbreaks and work with health system providers to ensure the community is prepared.

Lambton Public Health has also mobilized resources to be ready if needed.

“We’ve already got infection prevention and control, communicable disease control teams, and we’ve just made sure that they’re ready to go in case we need to start acting,” said Dr. Ranade.

It has been working with health system partners, including the hospital, “to have processes in place for diagnosis, testing and that type of thing,” he said.

Authorities are generally better prepared now than in 2003 when a provincial emergency was declared following a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, Ranade said.

The symptoms of the current virus can include fever and cough and are similar to other respiratory infections, such as flu.

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The entire Sarnia-Lambton community along with those connected with the business community are saddened this week by news of the passing of Marty Raaymakers, a longstanding member and past chair (2003) of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

While Marty’s contributions to the community he loved so much cannot be overstated, it was clearly his enduring commitment to family and friends that stood out from so many other features.

A business leader who began his career with Monteith & Sutherland in 1972, Marty eventually became president and CEO of MIG Engineering.

By 2005, he had been awarded the Chamber’s Business Leadership Award and he was a board member at The Bowman Centre for Sustainable Energy as well as a contributing pioneer for a number of large energy projects.

A podcast interview with Marty done by Lambton Shield editor J.D. Booth last summer can be found HERE.

Having sold MIG Engineering In December 2018, Marty nevertheless stayed active professionally, as one of the founding partners of GFive Inc., developers of the former Sarnia General Hospital site.

His friends and particularly his family, notably his wife and best friend Pami (nee Free), his children and the 14 grandchildren (aged 3 to 27), will all attest to his enduring love for them.

He will clearly be missed.

Friends are being invited to celebrate Marty’s legacy on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at the Sunbridge Hotel & Conference Centre (formerly the Holiday Inn), from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. As an expression of sympathy, friends who wish may send a memorial donation to River City Vineyard, Sarnia-Lambton Rebound, or any. other local charities in need.

A complete obituary can be seen at the McKenzie & Blundy Funeral Home & Cremation Centre Ltd. by clicking HERE.

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For most businesses, the About Us page on their website is one of the most viewed pages. Generally, it comes in second behind Pricing, not including the Home Page, of course.

Is that true for you?

If it is, you need to ensure it contains good quality content that makes readers feel a connection with your business. That’s why they go there in the first place. They’re looking to know more about you. If you don’t give it to them, you’re missing an opportunity to allow them into your world and make a connection. People buy from those they like.

But what makes an effective About Us page?

One that will resonate with your audience and that means having the following things:

1. Tell your story. That’s the whole point of this page but no one needs a history of your business. Instead, talk about what drives you—your why for being in business. Talk about your inspirations and dreams. If you have a special connection to the community, industry, your services, etc., share those.

2. Use pictures. Don’t paint a picture using only your words. Add images that will help people identify with you. The picture of your building can go on another page. You want pictures that will help people feel like they know you and your team.

3. Use video. Some people simply don’t want to read. Use a 1-3 minute video to connect to your audience.

4. Show the company pet. Who can say no to a cute furry face? Maybe you don’t believe in the power of pets. One business that has nothing to do with pets usually reaches about 20-30 people on Facebook. The owner posted a picture of a cat dressed like a shark during Shark Week and reached a whopping 750+ people because of shares and likes.

5. Add a subpage featuring your team bios and interesting things about them. Play up aspects of their personalities, hobbies, and/or interests that people will identify with.

6. Give your visitors something to do. This page is supposed to help them connect with you so don’t let them just X out of it after they get the warm and fuzzies about you. Direct them somewhere else on your site like a team page, customer success page, community service page, or somewhere else they can learn more about you. Do not direct them to buy your product. It’s too soon. Let them enjoy the date before asking about a wedding.

7. Show your audience something they will want to be a part of. Most real estate agents will tell you to remove personal pictures when selling your home. Staging experts suggest that personal pictures are distracting and take away from a potential buyer seeing themselves in the home. They think of it as your home, not their home. Instead, you want them to see themselves there, imagining BBQs in the backyard and making holiday memories by the fireplace. Your About Us page should invite your web visitors in the same way so that they can imagine what it would be like to be part of your customer “family.” Do this by sharing pictures of you having fun with customers or other examples of your connections to make them want to be affiliated with you.

8. Add social share buttons that make it easy for people to share what they’ve discovered about you.

9. Add a Tweetable quote. If you have some good inspirational quotes (maybe from your heroes, like dear old grandpa), make them tweetable so others can share them easily with a click or two.

10. Ditch your marketing lingo. Yes, seriously. This is not the time to use corporate speak like synergy and the rest. You want identifiable language that speaks to your ideal audience, not language used in business books. Speak like a human; connect like one.

Creating an About Page that increases conversions is easy; just think about how your best friend would talk about you and your business. Show how you help and why you love what you do. Those types of positive emotions are contagious and people will want to buy from you when you show them why.

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Lambton County Developmental Services (LCDS), a non-profit service agency committed to providing quality supports for people with developmental disabilities and contributing to our communities throughout the area, is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2020.

The agency, which is a member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, was founded in 1955 by a group of pioneering parents who dreamed of a meaningful life for their children beyond institutions.

This grassroots movement marked the establishment of the agency’s humble beginnings as the parents realized there was a gap in the education system with no structured learning environment for their children. The realization led to the opening of the first-ever school for people with developmental disabilities in Lambton County, which is located at the Lord Baden Powell House in Petrolia.

The rest is history.

LCDS strives to be a leader in the Developmental Service sector, providing the support that will enhance the growth of meaningful relationships, inclusive communities, and valued community roles for everyone. The Vision—Inclusive Communities-Innovative Leaders—is ultimately driven by the people and families it supports, who are at the heart of everything it does.

Their unique abilities, choices and dreams shape who the LCDS and how it provides services, one person at a time.

Our goal is to help each person to have a life that is truly meaningful to them and this helps us determine the types of programs we offer,” said Karen McClintock, who serves as Organizational/Community Relations Director. LCDS currently operates community participation, respite, educational, employment, supported volunteerism programs and many innovative residential options.

LCDS actively seeks ways to give back to the community with a focus on events and projects.  The organization continues to grow and provide innovative services even without increased government funding.

“Thankfully, through the success of our fundraising activities, responsible stewardship of funds, and advantageous partnerships, we have created much-needed services for people and their families.”

More information on the LCDS can be found at www.lcdspetrolia.ca.

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Sarnia Flower Boutique, a member of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, is being spotlighted as a featured member.  As we near Valentine’s Day, Sarnia Flower Boutique is offering all chamber members an exclusive  20% discount from now until the end of February, 2020.

The discount is available in person, through their online order system or by phone simply by quoting “Chamber20.”

Owner Adrienne Smith, who opened the business in 2017, operates Sarnia Flower Boutique from 940 Murphy Rd, Sarnia, located behind the Two Amigos Bar north of Exmouth Street.

The boutique offers clients a  variety of fresh-cut flowers, plants and European-style bouquets, chocolates, and spa products.  Retail hours are Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They are closed on Sunday.

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Lambton Chiropractic Centre, a team of two local chiropractors and their support staff, are being recognized as “Member of the Month” by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Kevin Storuzuk, pictured at far right has practiced in Petrolia for more than 25 years. He has teamed up with Dr. Derek J. Martyniuk (far left) in the growing practice.

Both are assisted by staff members Cindy Matheson, pictured third from left, and Allison Campbell, second from left. The office is located in the Petrolia medical building at 431 King Street.

Lambton Chiropractic Centre specializes in treating muscle and joint conditions in the back and neck as well as other areas, such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, hip, ankle, and wrist. The practice offers a range of services including chiropractic care, acupuncture, therapeutic modalities, and custom made orthotics. It also provides treatment for workplace injury (WSIB) and motor vehicle accident (MVA) claims. The clinic is open six days a week and can usually see new patients the same day an appointment is made. No referral is necessary.

Lambton Chiropractic Centre is on the web at www.lambtonchiropractic.ca and can be reached by phone at (519) 882-1880.

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The Sarnia Community Foundation, in partnership with The Windsor Essex Community Foundation (WECF) is offering eligible organizations that are working to do good in Windsor-Essex-Sarnia the opportunity to access non-repayable capital through the Investment Readiness Program.

A free information session is taking place Thursday, Jan. 30 at 3:30 p.m. at the offices of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce.

This is part of a national initiative led by Community Foundations of Canada and funded by the Government of Canada. Some $18.5 million will be provided across Canada to seed and grow social enterprise of which $380,000 is earmarked for the Windsor-Essex-Sarnia area in the form of non-repayable capital.

“The Investment Readiness Program is open to a diverse range of organizations and businesses including charities, non-profits, co-ops and for-profit social enterprises and can up to $100,000 in non-repayable capital to design, plan, measure, and scale social enterprises in order to get ready to accept investment, ” explains Jane Anema, executive director of the Sarnia Community Foundation.

The IRP is designed to help social purpose organizations build their readiness to receive investment.  There will be several rounds of applications, the first of which is now open. The deadline for this round is February 10, 2020. Further deadlines will be announced later this year.

An information session will be held at the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce office Thursday, January 30th beginning at 3:30 pm.  Please call 519 332 2588 or email office@sarniacommunityfoundation.ca to register.

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For one of the first times in recent years, the Annual General Meeting of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be holding this formal event in connection with its Wednesday, March 18 Business After 5,

The customary swearing-in of directors and officers at the Chamber will follow the 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Business After 5, which is being sponsored by Patrick Coutu—aka “The Real Estate Caddy”—along with Coldwell Banker Southwest Realty, Brokerage, one of the area’s newest brokerages.

With a “Roaring 20s” theme for the Business After 5, the event will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Gateway Room at the St. Clair Corporate Centre, 265 Front Street N. in Sarnia.  The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce AGM will follow the BA5 at 7 p.m..  Join us for food, a cash bar, games, prizes and networking.

Also sponsoring this Business After 5 is Grind Cafe, Steeves & Rozema, and the Gateway Room at the St. Clair Corporate Centre.

Patrick Coutu specializes in commercial and investment real estate services throughout Sarna-Lambton and is a member of the Sarnia Lambton Real Estate Board.

 

 

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Some people think a Chamber membership is all about networking and because of that they see it as obsolete. After all, you can just meet other business people online, right? Search on Facebook and a number of business groups will come up, many geared to a certain profession or business size.

Some of these groups are private so you have to apply to get in. A few even require you to answer questions and promise to play nicely with others. Upon acceptance, you can spend all day chatting it up with other like-minded business owners (for free!).

No need to join the Chamber, right?

Wrong.

Saying that joining a Facebook group for business replaces the need for a Chamber membership is like placing a nickel in your piggy bank and claiming to have a retirement account. Sure, the two are kind of similar but you’ll never get the same amount of return from that group as you will from a Chamber membership. Here’s why.

With a Chamber membership you get the following things you won’t get from a Facebook group:

1.   A Connection with the Community and a Marketable Designation

The Chamber is a well-respected community organization. Many people see it as similar to the Better Business Bureau. Your membership plaque or window cling tells customers that you are intending to be part of the community for a long time. Being a member of an online group is not a reputation builder.

2.   Knowledgeable Help

With an online Facebook group, someone will ask a question, others will give their advice. This can be a wonderful experiment in crowd-sourced learning. However, it can also have its downside. While the group administrator may have asked a few questions when someone entered, most groups do not vet members. Anyone can offer advice, skilled/experienced or not. It’s difficult to tell the good from the bad.

Facebook also allows frequent contributors in the group to receive a designation next to their names. Be aware this just means they answer questions often. This does not indicate expertise of any kind just a willingness to jump into conversations and post.

3.   Hands-on Learning Opportunities

The Chamber offers hands-on learning opportunities as well as lunch and learns. For many people, it’s hard to learn by being told what to do. But seeing it or working on it on their own through the instruction of others, can help improve the learning experience. That’s why some Chambers have created learning opportunities that include things like social media help and in-person website attention. Check with your local Chamber to find out what sort of learning sessions it offers.

With Facebook groups, there’s a limit to the amount of information most people are willing to share. In-depth learning will likely occur elsewhere.

4.   Ribbon Cuttings

When you open a new location for your business, hit a milestone anniversary or some other accomplishment, your Facebook group might send you some emoji balloons but the Chamber will be there with a social media mention, perhaps an article, help on a press release, and/or a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate your time in business.

5.   Advocacy

Your Facebook group may be exceptionally supportive and you may even feel like you have a group of online friends, but it’s likely that as supportive as these friends are, they are not lobbying on behalf of your community and business on a local, state, and national level. Your Chamber is. Many businesses forget this valuable part of Chamber work. While most businesses can’t afford their own lobbyist, they can afford Chamber membership.

6.   Trust

I’ve known a lot of people to get “burned” by something they shared on social media. If you need help on a delicate matter within your business, it’s likely you don’t want to splash it across a public forum, even if that forum is a “private group.” If you’re dealing with something sensitive and you need advice on the next steps (like in the case of a termination, business bankruptcy or going-out-of-business situation) you don’t want to share that with the world. At the Chamber, you can get the help you need or a reference to someone who can assist you without sharing it with the world. Chambers handle delicate situations all the time and they do so with discretion.

There’s nothing wrong with joining Facebook groups. They can be extremely helpful in hearing advice from people who may have gone through similar situations. But these memberships will never cover everything your Chamber can do for your business. Still, there’s no reason to choose between one or the other. When it comes to business growth, multiple tools and investments are required, and Chamber membership is an excellent one.

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